Before announcing Patrick Drum's double life sentences in the murders of Gary Blanton Jr. and Jerry Ray, Clallam County Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor pointed out the irony.
Extra court security, including Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict, Undersheriff Ron Peregrin, Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron and Chief Corrections Deputy Ron Sukert, were present in the courtroom and neighboring hallways throughout the hearing.
"It's not to protect the people in the pews, it's to protect you," Taylor said to Drum, adding there were people who wanted to do him harm. "We treat you better than you treated them (Blanton and Ray)."
He also pointed out the irony in Drum's being protected for life in a state penitentiary whereas his victims were completely unprotected when they were shot dead on June 2 and June 3.
Drum has said he killed the men because they were registered sex offenders and he was standing up for a belief.
Taylor told Drum vigilantism will not be tolerated and to commit premeditated murder is the most serious of crimes.
"It's reprehensible," he said. "You took two lives. People who loved people and were loved by people."
The family of Blanton, 28, a father to two young boys, has maintained he was unjustly placed on the registry after pleading guilty to third-degree rape as a teenager.
"The courts judged him wrong," his mother, Barbara Davis, said via telephone during the Sept. 18 sentencing hearing. "He was not a rapist."
Blanton's wife, Leslie Blanton, said the charges were the result of him being "caught having sex in high school."
Ray, 55, pleaded guilty in May 2002 to two counts of first-degree child rape involving a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old. He lived with his elderly father at the time of his murder.
A friend helped Paul Ray, in a wheelchair, to the front of the courtroom to address Drum and the court.
As his voice broke with emotion, Ray told Drum, "He (Jerry Ray) used to deliver me to all my appointments and the grocery store."
Paul Ray said without his son there to help him, he has to find a caregiver.
"I don't have no sympathy for the man that shot and killed my son," he said.
Davis spoke to Drum and the court audience for about half an hour.
"I was totally in shock," she said, recalling when she found out her son was dead. "I screamed, I cried, I couldn't believe my baby was dead and had been murdered."
Davis said she asked why Drum waited so long to kill Gary Blanton when they'd known each other for nine years and Drum knew about his past. She was bitter, angry, full of hate and wanted to hunt down Drum but has since let go and let God be the judge, she said.
"I have forgiven you," she said, adding, "There is something evil that is in you. God sees it all."
Leslie Blanton carried a family photo to the front of the courtroom and displayed it in front of Drum, speaking directly to him as he sat wearing a black-and-white striped jump suit next to defense attorney Karen Unger.
"They're never going to have a dad again, Pat," she began, crying. "You've taken everything from me. You called yourself a friend."
She told Drum her two young sons tried to wake up their father as he lay in his casket and they think they see him everywhere.
"How do you explain to a 2-year-old that dead means forever?" she said.
Leslie Blanton said Drum has known her for 10 years, knew she was the victim of a gang-rape when she was young and how hard it was for her to come to a place of healing after that.
"There's no healing from this," she said.
She and Drum went through addiction together, he saw her at her worst, saw her go to prison and come back clean to start new life and a blossoming family with Gary Blanton, she said.
"He made me everything I am today and you took that from me, Patrick," she said.
Leslie Blanton said she and her sons are followed, taunted and harassed by people who think Drum is a hero for killing her husband. She asked him to tell them to stop.
"Me and my kids don't deserve that," she said.
Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly said there is no room for vigilantism.
"It is unfortunate there are those people who admire what he did," she said. "It is despicable and disgusting."
Drum attempted to interrupt her but was silenced by Taylor.
Kelly recommended life without parole on both murder counts and maximum sentences for the burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm charges. She also recommended Drum have no contact with the victims' families for life.
Unger said she didn't have much to say.
"This is not a mystery as to what sentence will be imposed," she said.
Unger called the events "tragic" and said, "There are no words that can comfort anyone."
When his turn came to stand and address the court, Drum was brief.
"It was never my intent to hurt the families," he said. He asked people to not bother the family members and said he feels bad for the family's suffering.
"As for the men themselves, actions speak louder than words," he said before taking a seat.
Taylor imposed sentences of 116 months for burglary, 89 months for unlawful possession of a firearm and two sentences of life without parole for murder.
As Drum was escorted from the courtroom, he turned and said, "I love you guys," to his friends and family in the audience.
A friend of Gary Blanton's replied, "See you in hell."
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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